On a Wednesday in October of 2013, Sarah Hoidahl of Concord, New Hamphire, went to work her shift at Ruby Tuesday. When two National Guard servicewomen began to chat about the necessity to limit their order due to lack of funds, Sarah was touched.
She never imagined what she did next would lead to an appearance on Ellen.
When the servicewomen finished their meal, Sarah didn’t hand them a bill. She handed them a hand-written note: “Thanks to the government shutdown, the people like you that protect this country aren’t getting paid. However, I still am. Lunch is on me! Thank you for serving, ladies!”
Sarah paid for the servicewomen’s bill of $27.75. Moved by Sarah’s generosity and class, the servicewomen shared her kind deed on social media. It didn’t take long for it to go viral and for Ellen DeGeneres to invite Sarah onto her show.
“Oh my god, my heart was beating out of my chest and I was like, ‘I really hope I don’t fall,’” Sarah said after her TV appearance.
With Sarah seated across from her on stage, Ellen pretended to fumble around in her comically oversized cat purse to pay Sarah back for the $27.75. But Ellen didn’t stop there. She gifted Sarah with a brand new 50 inch Insignia television, as her old one was in disrepair. Shortly after that, Sarah was reduced to tears as Ellen took out her giant checkbook and wrote Sarah a check for $10,000.
“In that moment when she opened it and I saw, I just couldn’t even contain my emotions. I just started crying,” she said. “I have medical bills, student loans, some debt to pay off. Obviously, I have a 15-month-old. I do plan on donating some of it to charity.”
Sarah Hoidahl is a fine example of what it means to give without expecting anything in return. Her plans to give a portion of her prize to charity made her generous spirit become all the more evident.
And Ellen’s generosity didn’t end there, either.
As a follow-up segment on another episode, Ellen had a show producer pretend to be a reporter and travel to the restaurant to interview Sarah about her act of kindness. She was handed a phone with DeGeneres on the other end, and the host mentioned fact that Hoidahl and her mother share an old car.
“It’s got four wheels and gets us from Point A to Point B,” Sarah told Ellen.
Then another show employee came up to Sarah as the two were talking and presented her with the keys to a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport parked outside the restaurant. When Sarah sat in the driver’s seat, she was again moved to tears. As Ellen said, Sarah truly is a good person.
Watch the video of Sarah’s first tear-jerking encounter with Ellen!
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